TMOC: The Adulteress Part 2
The Roman Empire was nothing like the modern state. She recognized the necessity of nations and kingdoms ruled by their own people, and broadly under their own customs and laws. While boundaries were maintained, a person’s national identity had a lot to do with what laws affected them. Each locale was required by Rome to recognize the natural tension between laws of place and laws of people. Thus, Roman soldiers enforced the death penalty on anyone violating the sacred enclosures of Herod’s Temple, including keeping themselves out.
Jesus was a Judean, often translated in the New Testament as “Jew”. That is, He was under Judean national law, which was presumed to be the Covenant of Moses. As noted previously, this was not so.
Jesus showed deference to political leaders. This is the point of Paul’s comments in Romans 13. In Jesus’ mind, political authorities were chosen by God. Take the hand you are dealt when it comes to politics; Jesus pointedly avoided involvement in politics. Whether the rulers chosen by God were just was not the question. However, Jesus did not recognize any political authority over prophecy. This is wholly consistent with the biblical record. When He had a prophetic word or act commissioned by God, political authorities be damned, that message comes from a higher authority.
Critical to the message of Jesus was the assertion His national leaders had abandoned the Covenant. There was no question the adulteress had sinned. There was no question her sin was a threat to the Covenant community. However, the political leaders were an even bigger threat to the Covenant community, and had no standing to prosecute her. The Covenant had already been abandoned by their choices, and there was no Covenant to enforce. Without the Covenant, and no Covenant community, there were no grounds for enforcing the death penalty on her.
Please note Jesus most certainly dealt with her sin.
The government of Judea had chosen Hellenism, the Western epistemology generally associated with Aristotle. Jesus did not dismiss Aristotle; Aristotle dismissed faith, reducing it to mere sentiment. Had you asked, Jesus could have told you all you could stand to hear about the materialistic world view. Science is not a threat to faith, nor inconsistent with faith, so long as science is a method of approaching certain questions it can handle. But science, the combination of observation by the five senses and logical processing of that data, is limited. Hebrew philosophers understand analytical reasons just fine; it wasn’t a bad default for things which didn’t touch morality. However, science is utterly incompetent on moral questions. Reasons falls short there. Instead, we rely on revelation, because the God who made all things gave adequate explanation of the moral fabric human senses cannot detect in Creation.
Where the Spirit Realm overlaps the Fallen Realm is what we call “morality” and what Scripture often refers to as “mystery.” It’s not obvious to the human mind, but to the awakened spirit, it’s a flaming fire of Heaven. The mechanism of things is not always an adequate explanation of why we do what we do. It’s not simply a matter of efficiency to some logical purpose; it’s often a question of pursuing the justice of God.
For the rabbis and other Judean scholars to reject the Hebrew mystical approach to reality was a rejection of the Covenant itself. The Covenant of Moses presumes that Ancient Near Eastern epistemology, as does that of Noah. You and I are under Noah today; “so long as the earth continues to exist” it says.
For those who wish to get directly involved in content on this project, I would suggest you review these:
React to these and any questions they bring to mind, however indirectly related. You may well have a much better way of saying it.
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